FTC official: 'The goals of the ACA and antitrust are in harmony'

There is no conflict between antitrust laws and the care coordination provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to Deborah Feinstein, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition.

"If you look at the ACA it specifically says it's not meant to supplant competition and we think it is quite clear that the goals of the ACA and antitrust are in harmony, not in conflict," Ms. Feinstein told reporters at a briefing at the National Press Club Dec. 15, according to a Bloomberg report.

Ms. Feinstein said there are many ways hospitals and health systems can improve care coordination without violating antitrust laws. She provided accountable care organizations as a method for improving coordination without reducing competition in a relevant market.

According to Ms. Feinstein, of the hundreds of ACOs that exist, none have ever been challenged by the antitrust authorities. "That suggests that there are in fact ways for folks to collaborate" and "not run afoul of antitrust laws," said Ms. Feinstein, according to the report.

Ms. Feinstein also discussed the antitrust treatment of ACOs at the Fifth National ACO Summit in Washington, D.C., last year. She said ACOs can present antitrust concerns if they eliminate or reduce price competition or allow providers to gain increased bargaining leverage with payers.

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